News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. May 14, 2015: The New York based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) says the inordinate delay in the announcement of preliminary and final results of Guyana’s May 11, 2015 general elections is “worrisome and unacceptable.”
Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GEMCO), Dr. Steve Surujbally says the delay is due to difficulties encountered in transporting ballot boxes from remote areas of the country accessible only by aircraft, as well as by corrections of errors on legal documents which are required by law.
CGID President Rickford Burke in a statement Wednesday dismissed Surujbally’s explanation as “flimsy.”
“The Commission’s excuses for the delay are flimsy at best. Guyana’s electorate is small,” said Burke. “There are only 567,125 voters. It is unacceptable that over forty-eight hours after the people of Guyana exercised their franchise, the Elections Commission cannot at least announce a preliminary result. This has been the modus operandi of GEMCO for the past two decades. It is disgraceful and constitutes a recipe for disaster.”
The CGID head questioned “what the Commission done with the enormous financial resources the international community has poured into it to improve efficiency” and said “the delay is justifiably fomenting confusion and speculation of apparent dubious motives.”
“People are expressing concerns about an attempt by the ruling party to undermine the democratic process by overturning their vote and denying their expressed will,” he contended.
The Institute’s President said that the Presiding Officer of each polling place is mandated by law to complete and sign a “Statement of Poll” (SOP) which records the vote tally for each party contesting the elections, and that each party’s polling must also affix their signature before it becomes valid, legal document.
He observed that although the final declaration must be based on the original SOPs which are locked in the ballot boxes and transported to the Commission’s offices, the law requires that a copies be given to each party’s poling agent as well as be posted onto the polling place.
Burke said that “This is 2015. We are living in a modern era where communication from one end of the world to the other is instant. The Commission’s staff can use secured, two-way radio, telephone, satellite phone and fax machines to communicate preliminary results to the Commission, while the ballot boxes are being transported to the Commission’s headquarters.”
The CGID head added that it is now imperative that the Elections Commission gets its act together and “accurately present the nation with preliminary results especially since both the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and incumbent President Donald Ramotar and the opposition APNU+AFC Team Unity Coalition have both declared victory.”
The APNU+AFC Team Unity Coalition’s presidential candidate David Granger said Tuesday at a press conference that “With 2,025 Statements of Poll counted (or 88%), the APNU+AFC has 182,176 votes, while the PPP/C has 157,947; a variance of 24,229 votes. The APNU+AFC Coalition, therefore, after careful examination of the results can be seen to have a commanding lead in the polls.”
The PPP’s presidential candidate, incumbent President of Guyana, Donald Ramotar, thereafter hurriedly summoned the media and announced that his party had won, saying; “The count we have is as follows: PPP/C 182,664 and APNU-AFC 151,095 from 2213 Statements of Poll.”
Burke called Ramotar’s announcement “A mission to deliberately confuse and mislead the nation, as having already declared victory, the PPP has now legally requested a recount.” How can you declare victory and simultaneously contest the election” Burke asked?
He said that the PPP’s misinformation, coupled with the delay have fueled anxiety and tension.
“This, unfortunately, will create an untenable environment that can engender further tensions and unrest, which will be inimical to the interest of both parties as well as the national interest, and must be eschewed at all cost,” he added.
As of last night, the GECOM still had not released the official results from Monday’s election, instead releasing 80 percent of the polls counted that showed an almost neck and neck tie between the two main parties.
However, APNU-AFC’s Dr. Roopnarine told host of the “Caribbean American Forum,” on hottcaribbean.com Radio and tcnhd.com that the preliminary numbers announced by GECOM excluded 490 stations in their stronghold of Region 4 which they strongly believe will put them far ahead of the PPP/Civic when the official results are announced.